Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's Happening Around My House, Epilogue

With all the real insanity surrounding the attic, and the porch I have neglected to mention several of the other "Small Jobs" that actually were small jobs. (Remember, the porch began as a "Small Job" but ended up being even bigger than the attic, which was supposed to be the only big job.)

A security screen door was put on the back door. This will let us leave the back door open in the summer and be fairly safe from burglars and insects. Also notice the restored glass transom above the door! Some time in the past, a person decided that it would be 'better' to have a flimsy piece of plywood nailed up there.
We also had a "Whole House Fan" installed. In the summer, this will help pull cool air in through windows and our new screen door (pictured above) and blow the hot house air into the attic (pictured on several previous posts) and then blow the super-hot attic air back outside. Pretty cool. In fact, I have a suspicion that John may be installing more of these things once all of our mutual friends see this in action in the summer. Here is a picture of the installation in progress. NOTE: Apparently, cheaper versions of this fan are really loud--but we bought a good one, and it doesn't seem any louder than typical box fan on high. We bought the HV1000. Learn more:
And here is the finished result. The screen on the left is the fan, and the hatch on the right is the attic access. The fan is practically invisible after it's installed.
And I leave you with a porch before & after shots. Quite a difference.

What's Happening Under My Patio, Part 4

Here is (hopefully) the final chapter in the "What's Happening With My House" saga!
Here we see the porch steps starting to look like porch steps again.
Making the new steps fit with the old stuff
Almost there...
Wheww! New steps. Also notice the new shingle siding that is slightly different color than the old siding. The new stuff is just primed, but it's pretty close to what is there. The weather is currently too cold to paint, so we have to live with primer for a couple months and then I will paint things up myself. I got some good painting tips from John. (See below)
The new stairs in all their glory. Minus the hand rail--which is how this part of everything started. The railing will be put on in a few weeks, possibly by John and possibly by the company that will build the railing. The railing will look something like this:
And here is the doorway to our new storage unit/shed/garage underneath the porch. While it may not be pretty under there, it will be very functional. It's about 6' x 12' and I can stand up in it (I have to duck a bit under the new support beams).
The stairs bend around the corner of the front bay window. Here is a view from underneath showing the supports for the ends of the steps that extend around that bend.
Somehow, a lot of garbage was generated by all this. I'm going to digress a little now: You see, there is this this strange satisfaction with taking things to the dump. It's not politically correct, and it really isn't environmentally friendly at all! But there a great satisfaction when you get to chuck something over the ledge and into the pit at the dump and you know with complete certainty that it will never, EVER, come back. You don't need to worry or think about it any more because it's GONE! Completely, 100%, gone.
If you've done it, then you know what I mean--but you may not be proud to admit it...
King of the mountain!
It's finally done.
And now, as promised, painting tips for amateurs:
  • Go to a real paint store, not just a general hardware/home improvement store.
  • Use primer.
  • Use good (expensive) primer.
  • Use good (expensive) paint.
  • Ask the guy at the paint store for suggestions.
  • Don't paint in the cold or rain.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's Happening Under My Patio, Part 3

Back to the patio... This post covers a lot of ground and over a week of work.
We begin with the soon-to-not-be precipice of death. Or at least precipice of minor pain. Probably not death. Certainly not as much pain and/or death as the attic's Pit of Death.Here we see some of the new supports holding up the porch. Notice, again, how everything is attached to other things.

This picture was taken really to show the new big blocks securing everything to the foundation. But it also shows how the space under the porch is already a great storage location.
Now we move on the the "New Concrete" phase of the job. This big block is what the stairs are going to sit on. Which should provide better support than....nothing.... Which is what the stairs were previously sitting on.
Here we see two areas of new concrete. The short round column will proved a base for 1/2 of the top of the stairs. And the taller square concrete is re-connecting two previously disconnected parts of the foundation. This second block wasn't pre-planed, but we ended up with extra concrete and used it to help support everything.
A nice big concrete step to help us into the storage area was also added. This step was planned, but a smaller step on the outside (shown in one of the later pictures) was also added to use some of the extra concrete.

The support beam at the connection between porch and stairs was also rotting, so it was replaced with a new one.And it's starting to look like stairs again!

That green stuff on the stair stringers is what people in the biz call "POISON." It re-treats the treated lumber where it has been sawed.
The top of the new stringers. It will be good to know that something in the house is level now. NOTE: This picture was taken while the new stringer building was in-progress. There will be more than just that 1 nail holding it in place. Yet another of many pleasant changes from before.
The hatchway is starting to look good. (notice the little concrete step mentioned above.)
The treads were supposed to go on today (3/13/08) but it is raining. So John gets some time off...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Item Number 76

Here's a short break from my attic and patio saga. This picture was taken at the National Museum in Victoria, BC, Canada.

I don't know if this picture is supposed to be funny or scary. If you were to ask, my answer would be "yes."

So, a couple weeks ago I showed a picture of an exploded truck, and now I have a booklet on how to deal with incendiary bombs... I guess my silly blog just made the FBI watch list, huh...

Hello, Mr. or Ms. FBI person: Don't be scared of me, just because my blog contains the phrase "incendiary bombs" which triggered your text-scanning computer. I'm just showing the public that it is possible to deal with difficult issues, like incendiary bombs. Just look at the full title of this historical short booklet. Don't be frightened of me. I'm not out to get anyone. I pay my taxes. In fact, my taxes are paying your salary while you to read this. They also helped pay for the text-scanning computer that brought this whole false-positive-alert to your attention in the first place. In that way, you can think of me as a hero, really. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my congratulatory FBI metal and/or plaque. (I'm sure you already know the address.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's Happening Under My Patio, Part 2

Demolition happens fast. This was all in a morning's work. And, for the most part, the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy... Note the support (or lack of it) for the stairs.

This brace was like that (not touching the far stringer) before. That isn't a result of the demolition.

So, the top of the stairs were resting against a 2x4 that was nailed onto the side of the deck. Excellent.
In this section, we will delve into the subtleties of the 'floating beam.'
It is a trick of the angle at which this picture was taken, which makes it look look like it comes anywhere near the insulated wall. It doesn't! The fact that it doesn't is demonstrated by John's hand around the end of the beam. (And will be shown in great detail below). Be sure to notice the 2x4 nailed along the bottom of the large beam. This is what is creating the 'notch' that the angled 2x4 is braced into.
In this picture, we can see the gap between the main beam and the 2x4. Two nails are holding that 2x4 to the beam--one on each end. (Who'd need any more than that?)
Here we see a close up of the bracing. This angle shows the 'gap' between the beam and the house better than the previous picture. At best, that is a single nail or screw holding the angle brace in place. You can see it angling upward out of the big beam. I'm not really sure where it begins. It may not be attached to the angle brace at all, becuase nails are for chumps!
Here is the bottom of the brace. Again, nails are for chumps. And so there are none to be found here. Who needs nails when you have gravity on your side?

By 11:00am the stairs were gone and the trash was out. That hatch in the back (from the picture yesterday) is going to be enlarged into a small door, and we're going to have lots of great storage under there. Alice is pretty excited about that.

Here's where it went. (I have to enjoy it now, becuase it goes to the dump in a couple days.)
And there you have it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What's Happening Under My Patio, Part 1

Just when I thought things were almost done...
Along with the attic structure, we put toegether a couple of "minor" jobs that John could do while he was here. One was to install a whole-house-fan. That went just fine, and we will be grateful for it in the summer. Another was to put a security screen door on the back door--again, we'll be grateful for that in the summer. This one ran into a few minor snags, but generally was ok. Then we needed to add a railing to steps on the front porch as well as open up an access pannel (and vent) for under the front porch--as it was completely sealed...
Since it would be easier to do the hand rail if there was access under the patio, the access hatch was cut first. And thus, the can of worms was opened...

You'll probably want to click this picture to see the enlargemnt for full effect. There's a lot here. The first thing we noticed was the big pile of trash. That green thing is an old trunk or suitcase which actually has old clothes in it. There were a bunch of newspapers lying around. We found a date on one of them and it was from the 1970s. (Maybe 74?, I can't remember now.)
The next things you should notice are the two big support beams. The near one is at least touching (or nearly touching) the support columns on both sides. Although the left side of the near beam is only supported by a couple nails, apparently. The far beam--in classic "my house" fasion is being supported on the left only by that angled 2x4 wedged against the end of the beam and the corner of the foundation. Nice!
The stairs (rear center) are difficult to see in this picture but the technical term for them is "Pretty ****'ed up."
The angled "support brace" in the center of the picture is notched into the stringers (the angled wood that provides support for stairs) thus greatly reducing the effectiveness of those stringers. The vertical brace in the exact center of the picture, which is supporting this agled thing is set on this little wooden 'bridge' built out of non-pressure-treated wood which is sitting directly on the ground.
The last thing to look at is the wall on the right hand side of the picture. At some point over the past 100 years, the foundation has sunk a little and this wall was shimmed up. This in itself is pretty normal and not a bad thing. Except that they didn't bother to line up the shims with the support columns...
What does all this mean? It means we're getting a new set of porch stairs, some better reinfocements on the rest of the porch, and John gets another couple more weeks of job-security.

At this point, I would like to encourage everyone reading this to run onto the internet (Hey, you're already there! Excelletnt!) And buy yourself a copy of some of these fine computer programs by Headlight Software! GetRight, Go!Zilla, Lightning Download, Geek Superhero, Desktop Armor. In fact, you should buy them all! And then go to FindFiles and click on a few of the advertisments! When you're done doing that, you should be tired out, so go buy yourself a coffee from Starbucks! Thank you.